Today, I’m going to teach you all about images and graphics on social media. That might sound simple or basic to you, but it’s something that I commonly see mistakes with.
Those mistakes lead to images that crop off someone’s head, graphics that crop off important text, images that are blurry, or graphics that are too hard to read. All those mistakes can make your brand look bad but also means that your post is somewhat worthless. So how do you avoid these mistakes? Here’s a breakdown of what you need to keep in mind.
The size of the image or graphic on social media
The size of the image or graphic is probably the most important part. But I’m not just talking about big or small, it also matters what shape. Below, I provide general ideas for the sizes but if you want the specific specs, you can find that here.
Images or graphics that are too small
If you have a t-shirt with an image on it, what happens to that image when you stretch out the t-shirt? Sometimes it will crack. It won’t look as good as it did before. Images do the same thing on the web. They become blurry or pixelated.
You want to make sure that whatever image you’re using is going to expand to how big your phone is. That’s usually a good rule of thumb but some might need to be bigger as well.
Images or graphics that are the wrong shape
While profile pictures on most of the platforms are always circular, that’s really the only time you’d want something in a circular shape. You always want to aim for squares and rectangles.
The part that gets confusing is that the type of square or rectangles varies depending on the platform.
Instagram – a good rule of thumb is to aim for a fairly square image. There are some rectangles allowed but even those get cropped to be closer to a square. It’s easiest to just go for a square or to go for an image that would look okay as a square. For instance, if you share a rectangular graphic, it might get cropped as a square so that you can no longer read the text. I’m not referring to Instagram stories though, just posts. In fact, all these tips apply only to posts.
Facebook – Facebook can take almost anything. They technically encourage horizontal rectangles but you’re free to do most any shape here.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is difficult. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a horizontal rectangle. I’ve had plenty of times where LinkedIn cut off someone’s head in a photo and you end up with the awkward torso photo in the feeds. It does seem like they’re trying to fix this though since I haven’t seen it happen as much.
Twitter – Twitter needs horizontal rectangles. They just recently created an option where you can post more than one photo though which will change the sizing. If you have just one image though, stick to horizontal.
Google My Business – This is kind of like Facebook. You can do pretty much anything.
If you’re nervous about picking an image, try to pick one that will look good cropped in any way possible. For instance, an aerial photo of a forest could be cropped and still look good. However, a selfie or a graphic with text might get cropped in an unflattering way.
Create perfect graphics for social media
If you really want to create a graphic for social media but now you’re scared about the cropping, go to Canva. Canva lets you type in exactly the type of image you’re trying to create in the right format. You just type in “Facebook” or “Twitter” and it will bring up a template that is sized perfectly for what you need.
One mistake that I see a lot is people trying to post flyers on social media. Flyers are not the right size for social. They can sometimes work on Facebook but that’s about it. They’ll be cropped or the text will be hard to read.
After all, you don’t want that much text on the graphics you make for social anyway. A flyer has tons of text because there’s nothing else around it to give context. On social media, you have a caption and your profile attached to every post. Make your graphic with just a couple of lines and fill in all the details in your caption.
As a note, graphics are not accessible for those with visual disabilities. It’s always best practice to put most of what you’re trying to convey in the caption because that is readable text. If you’re ever wondering what is or is not readable, think about where you can copy and paste the text. I can copy and paste an image but not the text on the graphic. There are ways to add alt-text to some graphics but I’m not as well versed in that.
Posting multiple images
Most social media platforms allow you to share multiple images in one post. Keep in mind that this will change how the photos are cropped for some platforms. For instance, while Twitter is normally a horizontal rectangle, if you include two photos those will now be almost square so they can fit that rectangle.
The downfall is that not every social media scheduling platform allows that. For instance, you usually can’t add multiple photos for Instagram or Twitter on most scheduling platforms. If you want to use multiple photos there, you’d have to post natively on the app.
You can also make multiple graphics to share. This is something I especially like for Instagram because it can explain multiple points or provide a list.
What to post
Since this is about the basics, I also wanted to give some tips on the type of images to post. When you can, post something personal. A photo of yourself or your team, a photo of your office, or even pets will do really well on social media. People like to see more about your life. You can still relate it back to your business but consumers want to buy from people they like, not just cold businesses.
Now, you won’t always be able to have personal content. You will also want to make graphics for special events or holidays. You can share stock photos or photos of the city you’re in.
If you’re ever unsure what to post, check what other people are posting. Look at what does well with your competitors’ pages and even those companies that aren’t your direct competitors but are much bigger. You’ll get plenty of inspiration from other pages, just don’t steal their post. It’s called inspiration for a reason.
Test it for yourself
When in doubt, test it out. If you’re not sure how an image will work, try it on your personal page. If you don’t have a personal page, test it on the business page but be ready to delete it.
I have definitely tweeted out many images where I’ve had to delete the tweet and try again to make sure it was cropped properly. That’s the way marketers learn and how you can too. Just be sure to delete quickly. Don’t leave it there for hours.
I’m putting together a handful of these beginner guides so let me know if there’s something else that you want to be covered. My last one was on how to use hashtags on social media.
If you want to learn more about social media, check out my freebie on Instagram Post Types.